We travelled to Spirit Lake, Iowa, after visiting New York, to spend a relaxing 5 days with friends Frank and Marilyn, who we had met on a bike and boat tour along the Moselle River 3 years ago. When they heard of our plans to take this six month adventure, they offered us a bed at their Spirit Lake holiday home, to partake of some good old mid-west hospitality, relaxation, cycling and water sports. How could we refuse such an offer?
We arrived at the Lake in the late afternoon, just in time to enjoy a beautiful sunset across the calm waters, whilst dining on a perfectly bbq’d steak, asparagus, twice cooked potato and a delicious south west salad. The next morning the sun was shining, and Frank was keen to get his boat into the water, and take it on its first run for the summer. We hitched the boat to the pick-up, stopped to fill up with fuel, then launched it at a public ramp on the south side of the lake.
The weather was perfect for a day out on the water, including a little water skiing. I was most certainly up for that – the opportunity to test my skills, having mastered the art of slalom style skiing 20 years ago, was too good to refuse. I was the first to volunteer, and so, entered the water.
My initial attempt at a one ski deep water start was a big fail. I thought I’d give it one more try, and if not successful, revert to a two ski start. Sadly, I didn’t get the chance to try on two ski’s, because, as the boat accelerated and pulled me from the water, my hamstring gave out. I’d just begun to feel confident at standing up when I felt a “tearing pop” at the top of my left thigh, just below my backside, and a searing pain shoot up my leg. I threw the rope, kicked off the ski and waved frantically to those in the boat, indicating my distress.
It was no mean feat to retrieve me from the water, but with Frank’s help, a few loud profanities and a heap of pain, I found my self laying across the boats rear deck. I’d never experienced such pain before. I could not move without agonising spasms shooting up my left thigh. Despite their best efforts to make me comfortable, there was nothing that Anne, Frank or Marilyn could do to ease the pain. The best solution was to get me back to the jetty and reassess the situation.
After a slow and calm ride back, I remained laid out across the back of the boat, with a wet towel and an ice pack from the esky providing short bursts of interim relief. Anne ran to the house to gather up the panadol forte and ibuprofen pain killers from our luggage, whilst Marilyn retrieved the wine and glasses from the fridge. I felt I needed both! These measures seemed to work, but only if I laid completely still – trying any form of movement was impossible without experiencing shooting pain – so I laid still and sipped the wine.
A compression bandage was the next idea, so Frank took a drive to Walmart to buy one, whilst Anne and Marilyn kept me calm on board, seeking help with the New York Times Sunday crossword. Upon his return, pressure was applied to my injured region with the bandage, and the neighbours had all come down to the jetty to say Hi, and see if they could assist. One even brought me a pair of crutches, as it was evident that I was going to require some assistance in moving.
After about two hours laying in this prone position on the back of the boat, I felt that I should try to make a move and get myself up to the house, so that’s what we attempted. Again, after much effort, agonising pain and more profanities between gritted teeth, I found myself standing upright on the jetty. Despite the best efforts of all the helpers, including a retired nurse from next door, the pain was too great, and I was unable to move. I was feeling myself going into a state of shock , with searing pain, hot flushes and extreme perspiration – those around me described my appearance as “very grey”!
It was Anne who stated “I think we need to call an ambulance and get him to a hospital” No one protested at that idea, especially me, and the 911 call was made. Within 5 minutes I heard the approaching sirens, and help was at hand. I had been laid back down on the jetty on a neighbours camp stretcher, where at least the pain was manageable, but any thought of movement was out of the question.
It was a welcome relief to meet Savanah and Cindy, the two paramedics – they had a big bag of strong drugs. They quickly assessed the situation and inserted an IV line, administering valium, morphine and another drug to help alleviate any vomiting which may result. I was very thankful, but even with these drugs, the pain only subsided a small amount. They then used a canvas style body sling to retrieve me from the jetty, reposition me on their gurney, and get me into the waiting ambulance, and off to the emergency department of Lakes District Hospital. This was my first ever ride in an ambulance! More morphine and valium was administered during the short ride and I was soon in a triage room being assessed by Dr Delperdang.
I hope the locals didn’t mind treating a middle aged Aussie male dressed only in his “Budgie Smugglers” (speedo’s). They seemed fine with that 🙂 The pain had not subsided, so more morphine was administered, and x-ray’s ordered. There was some concern that I may have broken my hip or femur, and this needed to be ruled out. Thank heavens there were no broken bones or damaged nerves. The final diagnosis was a strained hip and thigh.
I was kept in the emergency room for about 4 hours, until the doctor and medical staff were satisfied that my pain had subsided enough to allow me to move under my own steam, with the aid of crutches. They even provided me with one on one crutch tuition.
I was finally discharged from the hospital at about 8.30pm, with muscle relaxants to stop the continuing and painful spasms, and a bottle of high dosage codeine based pain killers. Repeat prescriptions were also provided, to hasten my recovery. The Doctor suggested that the only real treatment for an injury of this nature was rest, pain killers and ice pack application, stating that I should begin to feel better and be more mobile after a few days.
It’s day four, and already I am moving around more freely, using just one crutch to support the weight on my left side. I can’t yet sit on my left butt cheek, so I look a little awkward and feel a little uncomfortable, but hey……it could have been a whole lot worse.
A huge THANK YOU goes out to Anne, Frank and Marilyn for their continuing care and concern, and thank you to their Spirit Lake neighbours (Cindy, Todd and Bob), the paramedics and the hospital team who all went out of their way to show me such wonderful mid-west hospitality. I can’t wait to get the hospital bill!